UK tidies up its IP laws
*** A statutory instrument making the changes necessary to the Civil Procedure Rules to implement the controversial IP enforcement directive has been prepared. It is the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.4) Rules 2005, SI 2005/3515. The new rules also make a number of changes not required by the directive. This SI is due to come into force on 6 April 2006.
Above, right: the UK's new Commissioner for Tidying Up IP Domestic Legislation; below, left: a patent practitioner in the bad old days before the PLT's drive to cut red tape
*** The United Kingdom ratified the Patent Law Treaty on 22 December 2005; it comes into effect in the UK on 22 March 2006. Since the PLT's provisions were implemented by the Regulatory Reform (Patents) Order 2004, there should be no discernible change in UK patent practice this March. Inclusive of the UK, there will be 12 contracting states in which the PLT has been implemented - but the IPKat's reliable informant tells him that there in fact 13. Which is the mystery party, he wonders?
Lies, damned lies and defamation over the internet
The IPKat has recently been perusing the second edition of Matthew Collins' book, The Law of Defamation and the Internet, published at the end of 2005 by Oxford University Press. It's nearly 500 pages and costs £125 in hardback - but if you think the book's expensive, try libelling someone on the internet and you'll soon find out what the word 'expensive' means, especially if you have managed to gift your victim the chance to sue in a jurisdiction where aggravated damages are available.
Paradoxically, while most defamations are fun to read, most books on defamation law are emphatically not. Even in the case of a work that covers a single jurisdiction, the laws in each country (particularly where the common law has been allowed to develop with little restriction) are often complex and, to the outsider, apparently contradictory or arbitrary. Matthew Collins, a barrister in Owen Dixon Chambers, Melbourne (Australia), has however done a remarkable job in making his subject-matter both accessible and interesting, without ever pretending that the current law on internet defamation is the epitome of clarity, simplicity or justice.
It is appropriate for a book on this subject to emanate from Australia, since it was in that jurisdiction that, in Dow Jones & Company Inc. v Gutnick  HCA 56, Jospeh Gutnick (above, left), an Australian claimant was able to secure damages of $440,000 for an internet libel that originated on the other side of the world (the first edition of Dr Collins' book was cited by the High Court in that decision).
BBC report on Dow Jones v Gutnick here
UK Godfrey v Demon internet libel case here
Defamation law and freedom of speech here
Your rights and defamation here
Friday, 13 January 2006
Posted by Jeremy at 11:22:00 a.m.